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bluesky.jpeg “Blue Sky Laws” refer to the securities rules and regulations enacted by the various States in the United States. Each State has its own set of rules and regulations, which are in addition to the federal securities laws.

The origin of the term is a bit unclear, but the first use of the term that we are aware of is in an opinion of Justice McKenna of the United States Supreme Court, in 1917. Justice McKenna wrote the Court’s opinion in Hall v. Geiger-Jones Co., 242 U.S. 539 (1917), which was three cases, all dealing with the constitutionality of state securities regulations. Justice McKenna wrote:

“The name that is given to the law indicates the evil at which it is aimed, that is, to use the language of a cited case, “speculative schemes which have no more basis than so many feet of ‘blue sky’”; or, as stated by counsel in another case, “to stop the sale of stock in fly-by-night concerns, visionary oil wells, distant gold mines and other like fraudulent exploitations.” Even if the descriptions be regarded as rhetorical, the existence of evil is indicated, and a belief of its detriment; and we shall not pause to do more than state that the prevention of deception is within the competency of government and that the appreciation of the consequences of it is not open for our review.”

Unfortunately, Justice McKenna never gave a reference to the “cited case” that he referred to, and the Hall cases have become known as The Blue Sky Cases, and Justice McKenna as the author of the phrase.

While these laws vary from state to state, the laws require registration of securities offerings, and registration of brokers and brokerage firms. Each state has a regulatory agency which administers the law, typically known as the state Securities Commissioner.

economist.jpgSomehow or other we got this far without mentioning Kendall Svengalis’ Legal Information Buyer’s Guide and Reference Manual. We should not have neglected it for so long. It is what the title claims: a guide to legal information products written from the perspective of the buyer. That alone makes it one of the most innovative legal information products ever, and Svengalis the man least likely to have lunch bought for him by a legal publisher. It’s a godsend to anyone who actually has to buy legal information. From our point of view, it’s an interesting catalog of the many ways in which people make practical decisions about the acquisition and use of legal information — and how practice departs from theory in the realm of legal research.

frcp2.jpegToday’s post started out as one of those cute-law-stats things we do so often when we can’t think of anything else, but it quickly morphed into something different. We thought it might be fun to see who was interested in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and which rule was most popular with the Teeming Millions. Surprise, surprise — it’s Rule 26. No doubt the rule regarding discovery was always popular, but new provisions concerning the discovery of electronic records have given it a real edge.

Since we started writing this post, fourteen new records-management businesses have sprung up (OK, that number we made up, but then again you have no idea how slowly we type). Every one of them uses a a sales pitch like this one. Law-driven FUD tactics are of course nothing new in the world of marketing (our favorite is the company that was selling US flags advertised as “Title 4, Section 1 compliant”) , but this is very big indeed: one company alone has more than 100,000 clients including a majority of the Fortune 500. Growth projections for this industry are hard to read — they tend to compare apples and oranges — but Gartner Group is predicting a 25% per year growth rate for the records-management business as a whole.

Jun 032008

goliath.jpegWe missed the press release, but Robert Ambrogi didn’t — his LawSites blog reports that Thomson West has announced a major revamping of its web site. The announcement trumpets any number of improvements, but we were fascinated by six digits near the end of Ambrogi’s report. West reports that it receives more than 200,000 visits to its site each month.

That’d be about the same number we get for our WEX legal encyclopedia, about half as many as we receive on the Supreme Court collection, and a third of our US Code traffic.

Of course, they have a key number system, and we don’t. Yet.

madison.jpegIt will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.

Attributed to James Madison (1751–1836): The Federalist, ed. Benjamin F. Wright, no. 62, pp. 411–12 (1961).